Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sending Children To Jail!!

In the past I've written a blog or two about the appalling school to prison pipeline which is quickly becoming a staple in some Southern school districts. These schools are taking a zero tolerance approach to adolescent indescretion and rather than calling a child's parents or simply suspending them when they misbehave, children as young as 5 years old are now being placed under arrest by the police and carted off to jail. Many of them end up with a juvenile record as a result of being introduced to the penal system at such an early age. This early incarceration can ruin children's lives and often leads to a lifetime of institutionalization. This is a sad situation indeed and particularly frightening when it's happening right in your own backyard. I have two children in the Wake county school system and I am proud of the students who have recently decided to take a stand against this unfair practice.

Wake County high school students sent a powerful message to school board members Tuesday evening.

Students have criticized school disciplinary policies in the past, but, now, they were advocating for a classmate in jail.

Some students showed up wearing prison suits and handcuffs.

"In Wake County, black students make up 25 percent of the student body, and over 60 percent of suspensions," said Cary High School student Qasima Wideman.

About a half dozen student's with the student advocate group NC HEAT used the public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting to blast what they call the system's school-to-prison pipeline.

"You're just constantly, constantly trying to be pushed out of school," said Knightdale High School student Tavon Bridges. "Whether it be in jail, or you just sitting at home not doing any work."

They claim zero-tolerance policies involving minor incidents lead to arrests, juvenile detention referrals and jail. That's the case with their friend Selina Garcia.

Excerpts from a letter the southeast Raleigh senior wrote behind bars read, "I slept in a cage, on a hard metallic bed, with a paper thin mattress."

Garcia remains in jail 12 days after she allegedly got into a fight on a school bus with another student. 

"I just want to see change. This is getting ridiculous," said Broughton High School student Markyona Patrick.

NC HEAT said the system should hire more counselors, not more resource officers and put a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions.

"We've been taking many steps to both recognize the data that's in Wake County which is concerning and I think the board also has taken a lot of steps to improve our discipline policies," said Wake School Board Chair Christine Kushner.

Wake County Schools recently adopted a five level infraction system with five being the highest level. Garcia is accused of a level two violation. So with that being said. Does a level 5 violation equal toture, starvation, or worse.

She was set to graduate this spring, but her arrest now puts that in jeopardy.

Although incarcerating children for simply being children is an outrageous, knee jerk reaction deeply rooted in paranoia, the rules still stand. No matter how unjust or unfair they may be. Throughout my time in public school I was allowed to make mistakes, and I was given countless second chances. I was never a juvenile delinquent or menace to society. But like the majority of adults in America I was involved in the occasional school yard shoving match. Back then suspension or a mid day phone call to my parents was the worst that could happen. Today in our regressive society children are no longer given the luxury of failure. Just the disadvantage of swift punishment. They just don't have the option of making a mistake. Because in this encironment the things that seemed trivial thirty years ago are now being used as weapons to destroy them. With that being said, as parents we have to know the laws in our state, and have an in depth knowledge of school policies. We must be ever vigilant in making sure that our children have a clear understanding of these policies and rules so that they can adhere to them no matter how ridiculously unfair they are. Their futures may depend on it.


No comments:

Post a Comment